Policy Resources

The Office of Faculty Affairs has developed best practices for creating and evaluating policy. We hope our "Getting to Good Policy" guidelines can serve as an aid in the policy development and review process for your unit. Resources from KU's Policy Administration Office can also be found on this page.

KU Policy Administration

KU Policy Library

Getting to Good Policy: 6 Steps to Frame Policy Development and Review


Write for the university audience

  • Use common terminology, with specialized terminology defined within the policy
  • Use “must” or “will” as both indicate that something is required (“may” suggests something is not required but merely a suggestion)
  • Policy must be written to be understandable by all members of the university community, regardless of educational background, field of work, or English language skills


Use clear and concise language

  • Use clear, precise words
  • Use active voice instead of passive voice
  • Avoid jargon or words known only to subject matter experts


Use gender-inclusive language

  • Use “they” or “the individual” – do not use masculine or feminine pronouns as the default
  • Avoid using gendered nouns (i.e., chairman, mankind, man-made, etc.) and instead use gender-neutral nouns (i.e., chair, coordinator, humanity, individual, machine-made, person, etc.)


Ensure accessibility

  • Embed URLs as text and use text that is concise and descriptive (“instructions for making accessible pdfs” vs. “click here”)
  • Minimize the use of bold, italics, and underlining as screen readers may not be able to differentiate
  • Ensure that any graphics, visual aids, or tables are accessible and comply with accessibility standards


Apply an equity lens

  • Analyze policy for its impact on under-served and marginalized individuals and groups, to identify and eliminate barriers
  • Review language to ensure it is inclusive and clear
    • ask: Will everyone understand the main message of the policy and how it impacts them?
  • Review for impact, ensuring that the policy treats all impacted members fairly and equally
    • ask: Is there a disproportionate or negative impact for those who need to understand the policy or follow related procedures?
  • Review all aspects of the policy to determine if it perpetuates or helps eliminate historical, legal, or other barriers
    • ask: Is it in alignment with current best practices and university values?


Consider the context

  • Recognize that how policies were written may reflect an out-of-date context, values, and purpose
  • Examine policy for its application in the current context, inclusive of best practices, university values, and policy purpose



Portions of Getting to Good Policy is used verbatim at multiple universities. In total, the above reflects language used on more than three public domains with no citations and/or is the reflection of points made across multiple institutions such as: Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Minnesota, Purdue University, University of California

The University of California documents also includes the following:

Online References for Policy Writers

Plain Language.gov, Improving Communication from the Federal Government to the Public, http://www.plainlanguage.gov/ (2011).

The Elements of Plain Language, J. Kimble

University of Wisconsin – Madison Writer’s Handbook

Purdue Online Writing Lab